UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps the latest Tory MP to unveil his candidacy to replace Boris Johnson
Britain’s Transport Secretary on Saturday became the fifth Conservative MP to launch a bid to succeed Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a longstanding addition to the growing and already acrimonious leadership race.
Grant Shapps, an experienced lawmaker who first served in cabinet under former Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010 but is not among the current favorites in the polls to replace Johnson, has vowed to deliver a ‘strategic’ government and “sober”.
His announcement came hours after Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, who impressed in the role amid the war in Ukraine and was a frontrunner among Tory members in several recent surveys, said he would not show up after discussing his position with colleagues and family.
“It was not an easy choice to make, but I am focused on my current job and keeping this great country safe,” he tweeted.
The likely months-long campaign, potentially pitting more than a dozen Tory MPs against several ruling party factions, is set to be formalized on Monday when a backbench committee meets to agree the timetable and rules.
The early favorite is former finance minister Rishi Sunak, who helped launch the cabinet revolt that led to Johnson’s forced resignation on Thursday.
Sunak resigned on Tuesday evening, prompting dozens of more junior colleagues to follow suit and forcing his ex-boss to resign as Conservative leader 36 hours later.
But Johnson, whose three-year term as prime minister has been defined by scandal, the country’s departure from the European Union and Covid, said he would stay on until his successor was chosen.
A resentful campaign summer looms now.
Party members will ultimately choose their new leader – from a two-person shortlist narrowed down in several rounds by the 358 Tory MPs – before the Tories’ annual conference in early October.
Taxation is expected to be a key part of the race, alongside credentials from Brexit candidates, as Britain faces the toxic combination of high inflation and creeping increases in the cost of living, as well as a to stagnant growth and relatively high tax rates.
Alongside Sunak, Attorney General and arch-Brexiteer Suella Braverman, relatively unknown former equality minister Kemi Badenoch and Conservative backbench MP Tom Tugendhat announced their candidacies.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and new Finance Minister Nadhim Zahawi – who replaced Sunak at the Treasury – are expected to join the crowded group.
Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who was a runner-up to Boris Johnson in 2019, is also “virtually certain” to stand again, allies have told British media.
Former finance and health minister Sajid Javid, who also quit Johnson’s government on Tuesday, could also run, but Sunak’s allies have asked him to stand down to give him a clear leadership race. reported the Times.
Sunak, narrowly edging out Truss at the top of the latest poll of party members, won the immediate support of several senior MPs after he said he was standing in a shrewd video on social media on Friday night.
He was also attacked by Johnson loyalists in acrimony that could spoil the contest.
The Financial Times said on Saturday there was “huge anger” within the outgoing prime minister’s team at Sunak over his resignation, with a senior official calling him a “treacherous bastard”.
In a veiled swipe at Sunak, Shapps said in his leadership announcement that he had “not spent the last turbulent years plotting or informing against the Prime Minister… (or) mobilizing a leadership campaign behind his back”.
Following the nearly 60 resignations that triggered his decision to step down, Johnson assembled a new team to govern on an interim basis, announcing a flurry of junior appointments on Friday night.
In a hastily summoned first meeting of his top ministers, the 58-year-old conceded on Thursday that “major budgetary decisions should be left to the next prime minister”, Downing Street said.
The Tories declined to say how many eligible members they have, but note it will be more than the 160,000 who voted in the last leadership race in 2019.
As the slate of nominees grows, some senior lawmakers have warned the field must be shrinking fast and have suggested that the final two-person slate to be submitted to members be decided in a few weeks, before the summer recess. of Parliament beginning after July 21.
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